In terms of low self-esteem, I want to tell you a story about someone I worked with. It was a young woman who frequently questioned herself. She would say things like, “People aren’t nice to me,” and we would talk about it. After a while, I realized that she was very nice, and other people just were not as nice as she was.
I often find this to be the case with people with low self-esteem. They happen to be very nice people, and may take it personally if other people are not as nice as them. The truth is that other people are not as nice as them, but there is nothing personal about it.
She came to realize that she was often the person who would take the first step. She began to embrace that and began to enjoy being kind, instead of wishing people would reciprocate her kindness, which was not likely because she was very considerate.
I remember during one of our last sessions she said she just felt “so happy all the time.” She told me, “I’m riding on the subway, and I’m looking at people and smiling at people, and everybody’s looking down. It’s like no one’s present.” She added, “There’s people who ask me, like friends now, they’ll say, ‘How are you so happy? I want to be like you.'” I told her, “Sometimes the student becomes the teacher. Maybe you can share with me how are you like that, so I can learn from you because it’s pretty impressive and inspiring.”
She said, “I just did everything you told me to do.”
It made me think that sometimes it is important to take our own advice. The main focus we had together and the main thing that she got out of our work was to just be grateful for who she is, and to enjoy being kind. And you can learn to do that, too.